One of Sharon Lam's favourite pieces is her depiction of Olive Olio's in Cadboro Bay. (Courtesy of Sharon Lam)

Saanich artist uses drawing to heal from mother’s death

Sharon Lam launched her art business in September

In the last months of her mother’s life, Sharon Lam started drawing the places they had been together. From neighbourhood coffee shops and nearby lending libraries to local beaches, it was a way to revisit happy memories at a time when there were few memories left to make.

In the year since her mother passed away from ovarian cancer, Lam has continued with her pieces. Now, they’re a form of healing.

“It makes it into a more digestible form of grief for me to draw these memories out instead of feeling overwhelmed by them.”

Sharon Lam and her family sitting outside Olive Olio’s in Cadboro Bay. (Courtesy of Sharon Lam)

They’re also a sort of time capsule for 26-year-old Lam, who fears how much she’ll still be able to remember 10, 20 or 30 years from now.

READ ALSO: Cost for cancer-fighting drugs triples in Canada but still no national drug plan

At first, this was the sole purpose of the drawings – to provide a small amount of joy to Lam and her family. But when the pandemic hit in March, and Lam’s previous work as a banquet supervisor ceased, she decided to transform her art into something more.

Using her commerce degree and the help of multiple entrepreneurial friends, she launched her online store Art by Sharon Lam in December 2020, one year after her mother’s passing. She creates the majority of her pieces using digital illustration apps on her iPad and sometimes dabbles with watercolours.

“It’s been a very constructive way for me to deal with those emotions. Turning it into a project makes it a little less daunting, I guess.”

READ ALSO: Touching scene with veteran inspires Victoria artist to paint Remembrance Day series

Looking back on her life with her mom, Lam said the importance of the community meeting places in which they spent time has become very clear.

One of those was the Dutch Bakery.

When she was younger, Lam’s parents owned the Japanese restaurant, Tombo, on the corner of Douglas and Fisgard streets and, each day at the end of the lunch rush, Lam’s mother would take them for elephant ear cookies at the Dutch Bakery. In the years since, the bakery has stopped making the treat, and Lam said no other elephant ear cookie has ever tasted the same.

So, when she was commissioned earlier this year to do a drawing of the bakery as a Christmas gift for the owner’s husband, Lam knew there was only one form of payment she wanted – the elephant ear cookies.

Lam said the owner has promised to bake her a batch in the new year. Like her drawings, she knows they will be a bittersweet memory.

Her artwork can be found at artbysharonlam.com.

READ ALSO: Greater Victoria residents share positive pandemic experiences


Do you have a story tip? Email: jane.skrypnek@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

ArtartistCancerCoronavirusentrepreneurGreater VictoriaSaanichwomen entrepreneurs

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Victoria Hospice staff Brianne Ohl, left, Angela Chalmers, right, and Sandi Ogloff, at back, show off their buttons that show a picture of them smiling. Staff has worked hard to maintain the connections with patients despite the barriers of PPE and rigid COVID-19 protocols. (Victoria Hospice Photo)
Hospice provides compassion in a time of COVID

Victoria Hospice 40th anniversary on pause during pandemic

Look for the Random Act of Kindness Day colouring contest in Black Press issues Jan. 17. Physical entries can be mailed or dropped off to local Black Press offices. A scanned or photographed entry can be emailed to info@victoriafoundation.bc.ca. Winning entries can get a $50 gift card to Bolen Books and a $100 donation to a charity of their choice from the VIctoria Foundation. (Pixabay)
Colouring contest coming for Kindness Day

Kindness Day colouring contest in partnership with Victoria Foundation

Sidney has moved the remaining parts of its public consultation phase part of the Official Community Plan online. (Black Press Media File)
Sidney moves to an ‘all online engagement’ process for OCP

Staff says OCP charrette scheduled for mid-February

(File photo)
‘Very lucky’: Two passengers, dog escape rollover crash in Saanich unscathed

Vehicle flips on Trans Canada Highway after hitting median, possibly due to ice, firefighter says

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Comox Valley RCMP are looking for witnesses after the theft of a generator worth thousands of dollars. Photo supplied
RCMP asking Vancouver Island residents to watch for stolen generator

Vehicle may have been travelling on Highway 19

Terry Keogh, an RDN Transit driver, used his paramedic skills the morning of Jan. 22 after coming across an unconscious woman along his route in downtown Nanaimo. (RDN Transit photo)
Nanaimo transit driver stops his bus and helps get overdosing woman breathing again

Former EMT from Ireland performed CPR on a woman in downtown Nanaimo on Friday

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Most Read